The battle for 2023 presidency is currently leading to division among the Northern leaders over where the presidency should go to despite the insistence of some gladiators that the North must retain power beyond 2023. Saturday Telegraph exclusively gathered that while prominent leaders of the apex Northern group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) as well as the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), are insisting on North producing the presidency, some groups of people in the North are looking toward the South producing President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor on May 29, 2023. It would be recalled that the acting chairman of ACF, Alhaji Musa Liman Kwande, while speaking in Lafia, Nassarawa State capital, last month declared that Northerners would vote for only a presidential candidate of Northern origin in 2023 irrespective of the political party he belongs to. “I am expressing my opinion as a full-fledged Northerner and a citizen of Nigeria and not that of ACF. Northern Nigerians who are tested and trusted should contest for any political office with anybody from any part of Nigeria and the people should exercise their democratic franchise to vote for their candidate of choice,” he said.
In what seem to be a total support of the Northern agenda for 2023 presidency, the National President of the AYCF, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, during an exclusive interview published by New Telegraph on Thursday said Alhaji Kwande is just affirming what he (Shettima) said many months ago that the North would produce the next president. He said: “Did he say anything different from what I said before? Was I not the one who started it? Do you think I would just come out and say something I am not sure of? It is not possible, and that is why I will advise all political parties to zone their presidential tickets to the North. “Any political party that makes the mistake of presenting a southerner as presidential candidate in 2023 is wasting its time.
“The North will massively go one way, so I will advise the various political parties to present a Northern candidate. My argument is based on the fact that rotation of the presidency was jettisoned in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan. So, if President Muhammadu Buhari eventually completes his second term in 2023, the North would only have had nine years, while the South would have had 15 years.”
Saturday Telegraph gathered from multiples sources that among those being considered for 2023 presidency in the North are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna) and Simon Lalong (Plateau); former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and former Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. The above options from the North is based on the calculation of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), zoning the presidency to the North. But the North is also looking beyond the two major parties as they might likely look for another alternative platform if APC and PDP did not zone their presidential candidate to the North. Confirming the possibility of the North seeking another platform to actualize the 2023 presidential aspiration, Shettima said: “There are other political parties, so we will look for an alternative platform without considering the size of the party. By the way, what makes you think that people will go for APC or PDP? Think beyond that. We are thinking of an alternative beyond APC and PDP and we will get there.”
But despite preference for a Northern candidate by the power bloc in the North, Saturday Telegraph exclusively gathered that some Northern leaders believe the South should be given consideration in 2023 and to actualise their aim, they have started shopping for a candidate from the South to replace President Buhari, on May 29, 2023.
The move according to a reliable source, who is a member of ACF, is to ensure that an alternative plan is put in place to protect the interest of the region if the leading political parties zone the presidency to South. The source said though some Northern leaders are in support of the North having another shot at the presidency in 2023, the calculation may change as some personalities in the Northern have started working toward ensuring that a Southerner, who can be trusted in protecting the interest of the North, succeeds President Buhari in 2023.
He said those rooting for Southern candidacy has narrowed their choice to the South-West and three names are already in the calculation. Those being considered for 2023 presidency according to him are; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, but noted that Fayemi is more favourable to the North than others due to his religion and clean record. He also did not rule out the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as one of the contenders for 2023 presidency. He said: “The North is interested in producing President Buhari’s successor in 2023 and they have started working toward it actualizing that dream. But in recent time, some Northern leaders have started thinking toward supporting the South for 2023 presidency and they have started searching for a candidate they can trust and they know will protect North’s interest. “South-East and South- South is out of the North calculation.
The North is going to work with a candidate from the South-West. At the moment, the North is considering Fayemi and Fashola while Osinbajo is also in the calculation. But among the three of them, Fayemi has an upper edge.” Speaking exclusively to Saturday Telegraph on Friday on 2023 presidency, an elder statesman and founding member of ACF, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said it is too early to be talking about which zone should produce presidency between the North and South. “We are in 2019 and there is still plenty of time before 2023 elections. For me, I can’t comment on the issue of 2023 presidency now because it is still far,” he said. Also speaking to Saturday Telegraph, the National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Yinusa Tanko, kicked against a particular section of the country laying claim to the presidency. (New Telegraph)